Children need to be allowed to fail

Children need to be allowed to fail

Every now and again we come across an article which resonates with our values at Snuggle Sac. This is one such article, so we have shared it in its entirety.

We came across this some while ago, and with exam results due within the next month we thought we would post it again.

In this article Professor Winston discusses why it is so important for children to be allowed to fail.

Today’s society, according to Professor Robert Winston, is “obsessed with success”.

Yet failure is equally important, says the scientist, known for presenting the landmark series Child of Our Time, which follows a group of children, charting their physical and emotional development as they grow into adulthood.

Children are being put under increasing pressure to achieve every step of the way. Some parents and schools are doing their utmost to protect them from ‘losing’ by having non-competitive sports days where everyone is a winner. At parties, parents are often too afraid to play musical chairs so they don’t have tears from the child who loses.

But by never knowing what it is like to fail, when they do fail, the fallout can be huge, with children not having learnt resilience and that minor disappointments are part of life. It can also prevent them from learning to persevere.

‘If you can’t deal with failure, you are missing out’

Professor Winston, speaking at Early Excellence’s Early Years Conference 2016, said: “Every single scientific experiment I have done represents a failure. It is really important as you can only learn through failure. If you can’t deal with failure by learning from it, you are missing out.”

He addressed a room full of nursery practitioners saying “what you are doing is massively important” and added that they play a “vital role in nurturing the next generation at a time when their brain is most receptive”.

The brain develops rapidly in the womb and continues at an accelerated rate in the first two to three years, in particular. It doubles in size in the first year, and by the age of three it has reached 80 percent of its adult volume. This means that the early messages that the brain receives can have a huge impact.

Good nursery head can make a ‘massive difference’

Professor Winston pointed out that the difference between children’s abilities and intelligence is actually “not that great”. What makes a difference to the people they become and what they do with their lives is the way they are nurtured. With a “good head of a school or nursery making a massive difference”.

“It is vital to provide the right environment for learning,” he said. “Children who have happy experiences are less likely to be depressed when they are an adult than children who have unhappy experiences.”

Nursery plays crucial role in giving children happy experiences

Nursery is so important in all this and plays a crucial part in giving children happy experiences which impacts on how they deal with things in life. Early childhood experiences can help form a person’s mindset.” He is a big advocate for the benefits of having fun and laughter, saying “laughter and humour is critical. Some of the best children’s books have a quirky sense of humour.

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